Just got done listening to acclaimed Irish opera star Ronan Tynan sing "God Bless America,'' with the bonus lyrics. Tynan is known to sports fans as the dude who sings during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. A favorite of George Steinbrenner's, Tynan was sporting his Yankees World Series ring too. Sweet.
(Speaking of Irish dudes, had wings at a place called Gabriel's Gate today. It's down the street from the Anchor Bar -- yes Dave, I got you a bottle of sauce -- and is just fantastic. Those coming to town for the Dolphins game this weekend should definitely check it out.)
-- Drew Larman made his hometown debut Thursday. The Florida rook was born here, but moved to the Detroit area when he was 11. He said he had about 16 family and friends at the game, although this was his first visit to HSBC Arena.
"I’ve actually never set foot in this arena, so this is a first for me,'' he said. "I used to have season tickets in the blue section of the old [Buffalo Auditorium]. This is going to be fun. I see where [the Aud] is still standing. It doesn’t look as nice as it used to, but it brought back some good memories.''
-- Drew is the focus of Sunday's Panthers Conversation in the Miami Herald. Just letting everyone know is all.
-- The Panthers arena is getting a face lift. After securing a loan from the county, the team plans to install a new scoreboard, a second video ring, a couple new suites/entertainment places and video boards behind the nets to cram in even more ads. All this stuff is expected to be done by early 2008.
-- The Sabres kicked off Thursday's game by showing a scene from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you know, the one where Clark W. Griswold fried the cat by plugging in the lights of his Christmas Tree. Coincidentally, the Sabers were playing the Panthers. Oh, I get it now....
-- Stephen Weiss and Ric Jackman were scratches Thursday.
-- JM on Florida's secret to beating the Sabres last week: "We scored three and they scored one. (Cue laughter) That was a game we were really up for, we played well, and they were obviously off their game. We've had some good games over the past two years against this club. It's a good matchup; they're quick and move the puck well, do a lot of good things. We're going to have our hands full, but if you play well away from the puck that's the key. You can't turn pucks over because they've got so many guys who can capitalize.